I would like to state my disappointment and frustration in reading of the City Council’s decision to invalidate the citizen petition to ban red light cameras in Sugar Land. It is regrettable when the will of the people becomes secondary to technicalities and the egos of elected representatives and city employees.
Instead, a task force is being formed to study the issue. I find that amusing. This policy has already been put in place and a sufficient percentage of the citizens of Sugar Land have signed a petition to put this policy to a vote. It seems like odd timing for a task force to study the issue.
The thing that struck me the most in the news accounts were the statements by Mayor Thompson and City Manager Bogard. The first statement was that the police department supports this program. That is well and good, but we live in a democracy and not a police state. I would think public opinion would be equal to, or outweigh police desires in making our public policies.
The second statement was by Mayor Thompson, “people think there are hundreds of thousands of dollars of fines. That is not true.” One of the newspaper articles I read said that Sugar Land collected $791,175 in fines from the red lights last year. If that number is accurate then to me that is hundreds of thousands of dollars. If the argument is Sugar Land gets only a small part of these fines and therefore money is not the issue, I would say that is a lot of money going somewhere. It looks a lot like reallocation or redistribution of wealth to me.
The final statement I found interesting was Mayor Thompson’s quote that there is no statistical proof that there are more accidents at red lights since the cameras have been added. To me that means there is hence, no statistical proof that accidents have been reduced since the lights were added. If there is such proof the Mayor and Council should present them.
I don’t know if anyone has taken a poll, but I can’t but believe the whole Council has not taken a hit in their approval ratings over this action and issue. I think it would behoove them to somehow come up with a way to have this initiative approved and put on the November ballot. I also believe that if they are really concerned about traffic safety in Sugar Land, then texting and driving should be their focus. But that is a debate for another day.
Sugar Land, Texas